Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Disputed Bay of Bengal island 'vanishes' say scientists


A tiny island claimed for years by India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal has disappeared beneath the rising seas, scientists in India say.

The uninhabited territory south of the Hariabhanga river was known as New Moore Island to the Indians and South Talpatti Island to the Bangladeshis.

Recent satellites images show the whole island under water, says the School of Oceanographic Studies in Calcutta.

Its scientists say other nearby islands could also vanish as sea levels rise.

Beneath the waves

The BBC's Chris Morris in Delhi says there has never been a permanent settlement on the now-vanished island, which even in its heyday was never more than two metres (about six feet) above sea level.

Villagers by the Bay of Bengal
Loss of land is an annual reality for many Bangladeshis

In the past, however, the territorial dispute led to visits by Indian naval vessels and the temporary deployment of a contingent from the country's Border Security Force.

"What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Professor Sugata Hazra of the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University in Calcutta.

Anyone wishing to visit now, he observed, would have to think of travelling by submarine.

Professor Hazra said his studies revealed that sea levels in this part of the Bay of Bengal have risen much faster over the past decade than they had done in the previous 15 years.

And he predicts that in the coming decade other islands in the Sundarbans delta region will follow New Moore, or South Talpatti, beneath the waves.

"We will have ever larger numbers of people displaced from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water," Prof Hazra said.

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Times Online Disappearing island sinks ownership dispute - 2 hrs ago
The Independent Rising seas claim island at centre of 30-year dispute - 7 hrs ago
Mail Online UK Well, that's that sorted then ... Rising sea levels end India and Bangladesh's row over island - 21 hrs ago
Telegraph Disputed Bay of Bengal island disappears into sea - 22 hrs ago Island claimed by India and Bangladesh sinks below waves - 24 hrs ago

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